4 Dangers of Baby Led Weaning

Jessica Penner, RDBabies & Kids, Baby Health73 Comments

Dangers of baby led weaning

Important update 12/2/2015

I’m receiving a lot of comments saying “food before one is just for fun.” 

This is WRONG and DANGEROUS. Babies 6 months and older need solid foods, particularly foods that are high in iron. Breastmilk does not meet their iron needs. The potential danger of iron deficiency is permanent brain damage. I’m not saying this to scare people off of Baby Led Weaning, just to educate you about this danger so you can proceed safely. For more information, please read this article and it’s accompanying scientific sources.

 

When a fad diet or health trend comes along, we all want to get the whole picture before diving in head first. Right?

Baby Led Weaning is the latest trend in infant feeding. If you’re thinking of trying it out, you should definitely know the dangers that come with it.

What Is Baby Led Weaning?

If you haven’t heard about it, Baby Led Weaning is about giving babies control over their food. It’s about letting them play with food, figure out that it’s food, get it into their mouths on their own, and figure out how to swallow it.  It’s letting babies self-feed.

To quote www.babyledweaning.com, “it’s ‘baby-led’ in the sense that you let them do what they need to do while they’re learning, and as the parent you resist the urge to get wound up in knots about how much they’re eating, whether they like the food you thought they’d like and whether it’s smushed into the nearest curtain. The main thing is… it’s all good clean (messy) fun.”

This sounds good, and many parents will fall over themselves to tell you how great Baby Led Weaning is. But before you start, be aware of some of the inherent dangers of what’s being advocated.

What Are the Dangers of Baby Led Weaning?

1. Not getting the right foods

Many Baby Led Weaning enthusiasts will tell you that your baby should eat what you are eating. It makes meals so much easier, your baby is motivated to eat what he sees you eating, etc. Sounds great!

The problem: babies have specific nutritional needs. You probably don’t eat meals that are tailored to a baby’s diet.

Babies over the age of 6 months need lots of iron. More than an adult man needs. More than breastmilk provides. Preventing iron deficiency is the main reason for starting solids between 4-6 months.  I’ve spoken to many mothers who are implementing Baby Led Weaning with their children, who are not aware of this important nutritional need.

Some of the high-profile Baby Led Weaning people do highlight this need. This is great! Unfortunately, this information is not trickling down to everybody in the community. Just check out this discussion! The owner of that page, which has over 28,000 likes right now, says “No need for you to worry about iron… Just keep breastfeeding.”

That is just dangerous advice. Especially considering it’s done against the advice of that child’s pediatrician!

The good news is that you can benefit from the principles of Baby Led Weaning, while getting your infant enough iron.

Just make sure that all of your family meals incorporate a high-iron food, and feed your infant those foods specifically. Let’s say you whipped together some delicious burrito bowls for dinner that are made with black beans. The beans are a good source of iron, so setting some aside for baby is a great way to include her in what the family is eating AND focusing on her specific nutritional needs.

Be especially aware of feeding your baby red meat. Red meat is the most important food for your baby, because it’s so high in iron.

For more info, check out my follow-up article, 3 Things Baby Led Weaning Gets Right.

2. Not eating enough solid foods

Babies at six months are just beginning to learn how to grasp objects between their thumb and index fingers (called the pincer grasp), which enables them to get it into their mouths easily. Most babies aren’t accomplished at the pincer grasp until 9-12 months. Most likely they will grab with their entire hands, and that makes it tricky to get food into their mouths.

Baby Led Weaning advocates emphasize being relaxed about what your baby is eating, which is a great ideal, but it introduces the potential problem that your child will not eat enough solid foods if he hasn’t developed the pincer grasp.

One mother told me that her baby didn’t eat solids until 8 months, because he just didn’t get the food into his mouth. I cringed!

If your child has not develop the pincer grasp and you are not supplementing their own eating with spoon-fed purees or by placing food into their mouths, they will not be getting the nutrition they need. Especially iron.

I cannot emphasize this enough, folks! Babies need iron!

3. Choking hazards

I’ve heard mothers who are practicing Baby Led Weaning talk about giving their babies relatively large pieces of food, like grapes and entire stems of broccoli. In this study, parents who practiced Baby Led Weaning were interviewed, and 30% reported choking episodes. Most were caused by raw apples.

This is fine, if you’d like to practice the Heimlich manoeuvre on your baby……

Adults have a lifetime of practice when it comes to swallowing, so it’s easy for us to forget how complex the process really is! Since our memories from infancy don’t stay with us on a conscious level, we can’t remember what it was like to have to learn to swallow.

Do you remember the first time you had to swallow a pill? I do! It was so tricky to figure out exactly where to place the pill on my tongue before taking a swallow, how much water to douse it with, and what to do if it got stuck! What size was the first pill you were given? It was most likely a tiny pill, not some gigantic horse pill.

4. Too much sodium

An infant’s body is designed to work best on a low sodium diet (an infant’s sodium needs are low and breastmilk is conveniently low in sodium). Since the infant’s body is expecting to receive a diet low in sodium, her kidneys efficiently recycle sodium back into her body. Contrast that to an adult’s kidneys, which filter out excess sodium.

If your infant is eating a diet identical to yours, there’s a very real chance she will be getting too much sodium for her body.

If the table food your family eats is essentially salt-free, I applaud you. Just skip this section. But if you’re like the majority of people in North America, the food you eat on a regular basis is too high in sodium for an adult, nevermind an infant.

Never Fear

Feeding solids to your baby can be a lot of fun, or a lot of stress! You want to feed your baby healthfully, safely, and without headaches. But it can be stressful to wade through the advice of your parents, your friends, and a million online articles, much less figure out the unique needs of your baby.

Too bad you don’t have a trained professional to help… right?

Well you do now!

And the best part is, this trained professional is offering help, absolutely FREE!

As a Registered Dietitian it’s my job (and passion) to help everybody have a happy and healthy relationship with food. This includes babies!

So I want to help you take the guesswork out of feeding your baby. Using my training, education, and experience, I’ve created an online program to be your guide.

Access it here.

sign up now!

This isn’t a “do this or else” type of guide though. I’ve provided you with all the background evidence to help you decide what’s best for you and your baby. This ensures you can make an informed decision, without having to worry whether there’s a solid scientific foundation for your feeding choices. Years of expertise went into compiling this collection of knowledge! From purees to baby led weaning, this membership covers it all!

 

 

Additional reference: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509508/

 

Share This Article

Subscribe for exclusive access to my meal planning hacks ebook!
Smart Nutrition Logo Arrow subscribe

73 Comments on “4 Dangers of Baby Led Weaning”

  1. Very informative and helpful at the perfect time. I was just starting to think about BLW for my mr Brody. Thanks for the insight!

  2. We followed a lot of the principles of baby led weaning without even knowing that we were. If you pair it with common sense it’s a stress free way to introduce food to baby. One great aspect of it for us (and this could be a fluke) is that neither of our kids are picky. They’ve been eating what we eat via a food grinder since they were 6 months old. I’d like to think that contributed to their general good eating habits… of course I’ll probably eat my words when the next one comes out picky ha ha 🙂

  3. If you read “Baby-Led Weaning” by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett you will see that they address your concerns. They talk about the need for iron and how to ensure that baby is getting enough of it. Yes, babies need iron because their iron stores from birth are starting to be depleted at 6 months. But the iron doesn’t disappear over night. It is a gradual process. So there is some flexibility in how quickly baby needs to be getting significant amounts of iron from solid foods. A child’s dexterity increases dramatically from 6 to 9 months at which point they are able to eat a wide variety of foods on their own without mum and dad shoving it in their mouth. The risk of choking is no higher than with any other method of introducing solids. They also discuss how to introduce food so that it is as safe as possible (they do not advocate huge hunks of food, or small things like grapes that could lead to choking). And finally, they discuss how important it is to not cook without salt to minimize stress on a baby’s small kidneys. I encourage everyone to read the book before deciding whether baby-led weaning is for you.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I’m so glad to hear that the authors of the book address these concerns! You can think of this article as the TLDR version of the book 🙂
      p.s. I hope you read my other article about BLW that highlights all the GOOD things about the practice!

      1. I find it surprising and somewhat uninformed to write a post about BLW without having read one of the most recognized books written on the topic. Not only is your post over dramatizing what BLW, but seems to be clearly based on your lack of knowledge and understanding of what it is all about. Not to mention anyone with a little common sense would be able to refute all of your so-called concerns.

        1. As I’ve told others, my safety concerns with BLW are not with the content of the book itself. My concerns are with how BLW is being implemented by the general public. I saw this first-hand in my experience as a public health dietitian.

          Unsurprisingly, nobody has yet been able to “refute all of my concerns” with actual evidence. They tend to stick to false platitudes, like “food before one is just for fun,” and vague empty criticisms, like “so-called concerns.” As this is an evidence-based website, I would welcome you to change that.

  4. I do think it’s a bit hasty to claim that the baby-led weaning is like a fad diet. Actually it’s slightly insulting. As a Registered Dietitian myself, I fully back this method, as there is more than one way to do something. I am on board with many other RDs who also agree the principles offered in baby-led weaning lead (more often than not) to better outcomes than overriding baby’s gag reflex by spoon feeding from the start. Many parents find they adapt and merge this style of feeding into what works for them and their baby.

    Another concern i have is your claim that the “community” completely overlooks the concerns that you mentioned above. It’s just not true. You claim that if the parents of babyled weaning is poor, so will the babys. But this is also true of spoon-fed babies. If the parents have a poor diet, they will tend to overlook nutrition no matter what style of feeding used and children will adopt the poor habits their parents have. Baby-led weaning actually goes beyond the baby and suggests the adults drastically change their diet to all become healthier, as there is now a greater excuse to do so. Like another comment noted, Gill Rapley’s book goes over each point in detail. And BLW groups always are supporting each of these topics.

    It’s just unfortunate that you are making baby-led weaning out to be as evil as a fad diet which couldn’t be further from the truth. I encourage you to research by reading the book to see that baby-led weaning addresses all your points above and is a safe and healthy option.

    1. Hi Jessa. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I love when an article sparks a good discussion! I’m actually a big supporter of the principles behind baby led weaning. I hope you also read my other article linked at the bottom called “3 lessons to learn from BLW” where I extol its virtues! Before having my baby I worked extensively with pregnant and new mothers. I found that most of the moms who heard about BLW did so from a friend or an article on the internet and didn’t actually read Gill Rapley’s book. I witnessed firsthand some alarming feeding practices. This article highlights the cautionary notes about the movement. I could equally write an article highlighting the cautionary notes about spoon feeding as well! Similarly to veganism or being an omnivore, there are both healthy and unhealthy ways to adopt a style of eating. This article is to help guide parents to make healthy and safe choices for their babies.

  5. I am a registered dietitian as well and I don’t think any of us have the expertise to be deeming BLW as safe. That should be left up to a speech therapist who specializes in pediatric swallowing. As a parent, u can do as you please, however please educate yourself before doing so. BLW has a lot of good advice that makes sense. However, as you said none of it is backed by good solid research. BLW provides a lot of clear cut instructions. However. How many parents really educate themselves before following something? How many parents get their info from other parents and it gets misinterpreted? How many parents know how to perform infant CPR or the heimlich manouver? These are the things that scare me about this practice.

  6. Rubbish. BLW is a great tool when used appropriately. At 1, I dont give my child whole grapes and hope for the best. That is insulting. “Eatting what we eat” mean Mommy and Daddy need to eat better too. If its bad for them, its probably not real great for us either. The nights we decided on frozen pizza and cookie dough (come on, we’ve all had off nights), he got broccoli (yes, WHOLE pieces cooked to correct softness and fruit. I think it might be you who needs a bit more education on this “fad”.

    1. You got it: “BLW is a great tool when used appropriately.” Unfortunately, a lot of people DON’T use it appropriately, which is why I wrote this post. Thanks for reading.

    2. When I see comments like Tracy’s I have to wonder if they even read the article. Jessica writes an informative article about the things to be aware of when using a tool like BLW, and you comment saying “it’s a great tool when used appropriately?” What did you think the article was for? It’s educating people about how to use BLW appropriately.

      “If it’s bad for them, it’s probably not real great for us either” ignores the entire section that talks about how babies have different nutritional needs than we do.

      And getting insulted because a Registered Dietitian points out how she has seen some BLW parents feeding their children whole grapes? Congratulations on not doing the dangerous thing this article is warning about. The appropriate response to seeing such a warning would be to realize that the warning is not directed at you, and skim on to the next section. Going out of your way to get insulted by something that wasn’t directed at you is just ridiculous.

  7. I have not read BLW, but from what is written it seems I followed it pretty well. However, when I was pregnant with my first (of four), I started changing our diet because I realized what we ate and then what they ate could set them up for a lifetime of health. I felt each choice I made would nourish their brains. So when they were ready for solids, eating what we ate was just fine. I was eating an apple while nursing five month old Dan and he grabbed it and took a bite. Baby led weaning at its finest.

    I worry about the stress that modern parents are under to do everything just right. No one can do everything right, but we sure can pass along the stress and not enjoy our babies.

    As for spoon feeding, do you think babies were malnourished before Gerber? I never bought a single jar of baby food for any of my kids. Yes, I carried a baby food grinder so they could share my steak when we went out. Today, my kids are healthy adults, making good food choices still. Trust yourselves, make informed choices, relax and enjoy your kids!

    1. Hi Joan,
      So true! I think sometimes we stress too much about parenting. Love the advice you give in the last sentence!

      I’m not sure about malnutrition in decades past. I would have to do more research to look into that 🙂

  8. I would be interested to read the evidence and research studies which back up the claims you have made in this article. Many thanks.

  9. I’ve known as couple of friends who have done baby led weaning without being obviously dangerous about it… I think anyone can take anything too far. honestly though, has anyone heard “food before one is just for fun”? If a baby is breastfed there are ZERO nutritional deficiency, of iron or anything else in the first year, in fact solids are not necessary at all. letting a safely baby experiment with food isn’t harmful. Maybe you should focus on an article with research from dependable sources that prove that there’s complete nutrition for breastfed babies, or this should be retitled to target stupid parents or parents who chose to bottle feed, as this seems like a petty article honestly. Also, if you into it further, things like feeding babies rice cereals is bad for the developing intestine and is difficult to digest without amylase, which is naturally in breastmilk but produced in the body until after a year to level that’s needed to digest those foods…

    1. Thanks for commenting! Here’s what I hear you saying:

      1) BLW can be done safely.

      I’m in complete agreement. This article highlights some dangers to be aware of, if it’s not done safely.

      2) Food before one is just for fun. Breastfed babies have no nutritional deficiencies.

      This is false and dangerous. I assume you did not follow the links to see the scientific support showing why food supplementation for extra iron is absolutely necessary after 6 months. Here’s a direct link to some health recommendations, for your convenience. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/recom-6-24-months-6-24-mois-eng.php Additionally, unless the mother is supplementing herself with more than 4000 IU of vitamin D each day, the breastfed baby also need to be supplemented with a minimum of 400 IU of Vitamin D daily.

      3) I don’t use dependable sources

      I have to assume you haven’t checked out the peer-reviewed sources I used for this article, or the other articles I’ve linked to which themselves cite peer-reviewed studies. If you have a concern about one of these studies, I’d be very open to discussing them in specific. But please do include your own sources when making nutritional claims that contradict the sources I’ve posted.

      4) Babies don’t have enough amylase to digest rice cereals.

      This is also false. Please see this article, and if you want the reliable scientific sources behind that one, just follow the links to the scienceofmom.com article, which has a plethora of studies backing its conclusions. https://www.smartnutrition.ca/baby-health/dietitians-guide-infant-cereal-part-4-can-babies-digest-starch-infant-cereal/

  10. This article is crap. Babies get all their needed nutrition from breastmilk or formula until 12 months of age so your not getting enough or the right nutrition is crap! They have a gag reflex and if you are supervising them they have a better chance of choking on a toy than food! Stop spreading this fear mongering nonsense around.

    1. Hi Kristy,
      Please see my response to Leah’s comment. Babies NEED iron from foods starting at 6 months of age! Iron deficiency is a real concern in infants and some of the ill effects on brain development are NOT reversible!

  11. You mentioned only ONE “study” to provide evidence of your theories.. Also, you are wrong about babies “needing” iron from solid foods between ages of 4 and 6 months. That is false information. Babies need NOTHING besides breastmilk or formula before the age of 1. You should consider revising this article and adding some credible information.

    1. Actually, there are two studies directly linked in this article. I also linked to another two articles of mine for support, which themselves are supported by another two sources, shown below for your convenience. One of those sources is another study, and the other source is an advisory by the government of Canada. They take their sources seriously. If you read that page, you’ll find a grand total of 22 independent sources.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2528681/
      http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/index-eng.php

      Please review this information carefully! As a registered health professional, I assure you that I have gone to great lengths, including four years of education, to ensure that the information I have to share here is credible. If you have an opinion that dissents from mine, please support your opinion with a source that contradicts the sources I’ve used here to support mine.

  12. If a child oil breastfed then food before one is just for fun . Their diet should always be milk number one . So to be fair some of this information is wrong and misleading .

    1. At 6 months of age, a child’s primary and most largest source of nutrition continues to be breastmilk or formula. But at this age, the child’s needs for iron start to grow larger than what the breastmilk can provide. Thus, high iron foods need to be introduced. Both the breastmilk and high iron foods are important.

  13. Blw is not a new fad. In fact that’s how babies have been feed (other than breastmilk) since humans roamed the earth. Baby mush is a new fad. They are more prone to choke on it than blw foods if done correctly. Do your research before posting articles meant to scare parents

    1. Thanks for your feedback. Any dangers I highlight are not done to scare anyone, which is why I used the words “don’t be scared off of baby led weaning!” It’s just to make people aware of the danger, so they can be informed and proceed safely. As a health professional I strive to base my articles as much as possible on solid research. I’m always keen to hear of new research, so I would ask you to show the research behind your claim that babies are more likely to choke on a puree than on a BLW food. I have actually done plenty of research on this topic, as you can tell from the several sources cited in the article, and have found no evidence of that claim.

      It’s also important that you qualified that with the phrase “if done correctly.” This article is an attempt to make sure people are aware of how to proceed safely with BLW, ie. do it correctly. I hope you’ve read the follow-up to this article, which is all about the benefits of BLW! I’m not saying anything different than this BLW article regarding the safety precautions to take.

  14. The problem is not everyone is educated or does the research they need to. If done correctly BLW is amazing. My husband and I modified our diets such as cutting out salt and added iron rich foods while not giving our LO processed food. To say the child eats what you eat would be fine if the adult ate correctly. If people are interested in BLW. Then read “Baby-Led Weaning” by Gill Rapley and it addresses all you points from salt content to preparing the correct food correctly.

    1. Couldn’t agree more! In my practice as a Dietitian working with moms of infants, I have seen a LOT of moms jump into BLW without having read the book and have adopted a lot of unsafe practices. I wrote the article to provide informed decision making for parents.

      One correction though… when you say that the parent just needs to eat properly, you’re missing the fact that babies need more iron than adults. If a baby’s diet is identical to an adult’s diet, either the adult will be getting too much iron, or the baby will not be getting enough. Both are problematic.

  15. I agree with other commenters that “food before 1 is just for fun.” Breastmilk is the number 1 source of nutrition until about 1 year of age. According to the WHO, it is recommended that mothers breastfeed until the age of 2…therefore whatever nutritional deficiencies a baby may have from solids, he/she is still getting from breastmilk. Just thought I would throw that out there.

    Also, I understand that you are a registered dietician, but unless you studied nutrition specific to infants or children, I think mother knows best. 🙂

    1. My nutrition degree and RD training absolutely included nutrition specific to infants and children. I also worked nearly exclusively with parents of infants in my role as a Public Health Dietitian. I was also part of a provincial board to review the research and literature pertaining to starting solids. The benefit of heeding the advice of your health professionals is that we have a full understanding of all the health recommendations, not just a smattering here and there. So, I know that the WHO recommends breastfeeding until the age of 2, and I ALSO know that they recommend introducing solids at 6 months of age, because solid food is NOT just for fun after 6 months. It is to supplement babies’ growing need for iron that breastmilk cannot supply after 6 months.

      While “mother knows best” applies to many situations, iron deficiency can lead to permanent brain damage, so this is a matter best decided with the recommendation of health experts.

  16. I would like to clarify my statement about child eating the same as parent. There are age appropriate foods that contain the vitamins children need ie fats and irons. Adults need less fats and more carbs from grains for example. So our child woild recieve broccoli properly cooked (easily squashed between finger and thumb) while I ate the less cooked broccoli with rice. She would get avocado while i ate a burrito. If people properly researched and spoke with the child’s doctor Im sure BLW wouldnt be such a big deal. I agree with you. I just feel like the article should warn parents against the dangers you presented while providing resources to correct those mistakes. Like stating the sodium limits for children and what foods are preferred and proper prep.

  17. I could not disagree more with every “danger”. However, having said that I do agree that alot of parents do not do proper research beforehand. And as far as choking I have had to perform first aid on my now 3 year old grandson 3 times for choking when he was younger transitioning from baby food to big people food. And, my 16 month old son who after my hours researching was feed using the BLW method has never not once choked and his first foods were a strip of chicken and strip of steak.

    1. Since you disagree with everything here, but agree about doing research, I look forward to seeing the studies you’ve found that contradict the ones I’ve referenced!

  18. Unfortunately, 99% of mothers reading this post, or using BLW already aren’t dieticians or trained medical professionals, or even have the time/energy/desire to sift through countless studies, blog posts and articles (some of which you direct us to read in this post) for and against the different ways to feed their child. They are simply doing what they’ve watched their own mothers, sisters or friends do with their children. So in your noble attempt to inform us uneducated mothers, you have may have confused us even further and contributed to our growing fear that we are doing the wrong thing by our child. I BLW my 12mo son and he has eaten a variety of solid foods from when he was 6mo. He was breastfed until 7m and is now formula fed to supplement his solids. Does he always eat a perfectly balanced and nutritious meal? No. While I offer lots of healthy food, he will always try it and decide if he likes it, which sometimes he doesn’t! I was absolutely confident in my choices of what to feed him and how much… Until I read your post. Now I’m having a crisis of confidence over whether he’s getting enough iron, calcium,or vitamin x, y and z and fearing that he’s going to somehow end up brain damaged because I didn’t persist with giving him greater quantities of certain foods.

    If you wanted to help mums make better choices, titling your post, “The dangers of BLW” probably wasn’t the best way to go about it. Yes, of course there are dangers if all you’re allowing your child to choose is cake and cookies, but please gives us some credit. To sit in the camp that breastmilk is no longer all a baby needs after 6 months and that it’s somehow deficient is very dangerous because every doctor and nurse I’ve ever seen since my son was born has confirmed that breast milk or formula are all a baby needs nutritionally until they reach 12m, when their bodies rely on solid food a lot more.

    You’ve simply thrown your highly educated opinion in to the ever-increasing judgement pool of how to raise a child. Something most of us mums need a lot less of.

    1. Reading the supporting evidence is always optional. I link to it for the benefit of the people who are skeptical of the science behind the concerns I have, so they can see it.

      I’m genuinely sorry that you feel confused by this article. It sounds like you have a solid feeding approach, and there is only one potential deficiency highlighted here that you should be concerned about, which is iron. The easiest way to get your baby iron is with red meat, because it’s so high in iron.

      When you say this, “every doctor and nurse I’ve ever seen since my son was born has confirmed that breast milk or formula are all a baby needs nutritionally until they reach 12m,” that causes me great concern, and I can definitely see how that would be confusing to you. Unfortunately doctors and nurses don’t receive the same nutritional education and updates that dietitians do. Any health professional telling you that infants don’t need anything besides breastmilk past 6 months is quite simply wrong. This might cause you to be confused about who to believe, but the next time you talk to one of these doctors or nurses, just mention to them that a registered dietitian (and every major health organization around the globe) is contradicting their advice.

  19. What a load of nonsense. My twins who were BLW eat so much better than my eldest who was TW. She had a major aversion to lumps or pieces of food as is common with babies who get too used to purees straight away. This is very common with TW babies. Vitamin supplements are widely available if parents feel that their babies are not ingesting quite enough nutritious foods straight off the bat at 6 months. Many babies by this age are perfectly able to eat foods without issues and the gag reflex is very far forward so choking is highly unlikely. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that you have to slice grapes to give to a baby. It’s very easy not to have a high sodium content in the food you prepare, YOU are preparing it…. What a way to put parents off of a wonderful way of introducing their babies to food. Great going. *slow clap*

    1. Awesome, I’m glad to hear BLW worked for your twins! Make sure to read the next article linked at the end of this one, where I talk about some great aspects of BLW! And do make sure to not discount the concerns in this one, merely because you’re personally already aware of them. High-sodium diets are a common problem, and if people aren’t aware that their baby needs a reduced-sodium diet, they will not prepare such meals.

      Food is the most common cause of infant choking. I’ve observed BLW mothers feeding whole grapes to their children, so I will continue warning the public about that, regardless of how obvious others may find it.

      Also, be aware that there’s growing evidence that vitamins from supplements are not absorbed by the body in the same way as vitamins from food.

  20. I appreciated some things in this article but others I didnt. You say BLW is a fad sorry but thats not true. People all over the world especially in Europe do BLW. For years parents have chewed up and given babe what came from their mouth. America is probably one of the few countries that shoves purees in a jar. Im glad we did BLW for my son. He has sensory processing disorder so the mush food made him angry and he would scream. I agree though it makes me crazy when I hear the phrase “food before one is just for fun” but its one of those things I say to each their own but I could never imagine waiting until my sons exact first birthday to give him real food when hes shown a major interest in real food

    1. Lots of people have objected to the use of the word “fad!” To be fair, I didn’t technically call BLW a fad. I said it was a trend. It’s definitely gaining in popularity!

      Good to hear we’re on the same page for the most part!

  21. Your website is incredibly incorrect. Red meat although high in iron is horrible for the body to digest, especially for babies. The WHO has recently released studies showing meat leads to cancer and other digestion problems. Also do you think humans for thousands of years starting worrying about iron at 6 months ? Breast milk is all a baby needs . There are far more studies proving everything that you have stated to be in correct , than the two articles you have sources for your information . This is your opinion. It’s dangerous for this website to be up . This is not “smart ” nutrition . I’m sorry you seem really nice but squash has more iron than red meat and is easier to digest as well . Please consider removing this page .

    1. It’s amazing how many studies are talked about in the comments here that prove me wrong, without anyone actually naming any!

      Squash is a fine food to feed your infant, but almost any red meat will contain more iron per gram than squash. Perhaps you’re thinking of squash seeds, which are very high in iron, but of course are unsuitable for feeding to infants. Let’s take a mathematical comparison of the two foods mentioned:

      100g winter squash: 0.44 mg iron x 10% absorption (I’m being quite generous with this rate) = 0.044mg absorbed
      100g beef brisket: 2.53mg x 23% absorption = 0.5819

      When eating the same quantity of each food, more than 13x MORE iron is absorbed from the beef than the squash.

      And here’s a direct quote from the National Institutes of Health in regards to the inadequacy of breastmilk to cover an infant’s nutritional needs after 6 months of age: “…full-term infants have a risk of becoming iron deficient at 6 to 9 months unless they obtain adequate amounts of solid foods that are rich in bioavailable iron….”

      The benefit of being a health professional is that I have the scope of education and training to understand that the WHO linking red meat and cancer does not mean we should disregard other recommendations, such as their recommendation to feed infants red meat.

      http://www.who.int/features/qa/57/en/

      I understand that it’s confusing to hear that red meat intake should be limited in adulthood but encouraged in infancy. I wrote an article explaining this apparent discrepancy: https://www.smartnutrition.ca/baby-health/forget-everything-you-know-about-feeding-your-baby/

      PS, for thousands of years the infant mortality rate was stratospherically higher than it is today. I prefer to learn from the science of today, which is why this is an evidence-based website.

      PPS, there has been substantial evidence for quite some time that high meat consumption in adulthood is linked with higher rates of cancer. The WHO simply released a statement recently, commenting on this current body of knowledge. They didn’t release any new studies.

  22. This article really bothered me. I am a mother of 4 and I understand that certain dietary nutrients are not fully available through breastmilk, such as iron and a few others, and especially if a mother’s diet is not well rounded. But in most other aspects, breastmilk is best source of nutrition for the first year. It is designed to change and grow with baby to provide all nutrition needed. Food if introduced at the proper time in the proper way is a way to gain additional nutrients, but also a way to expand the taste pallete. Recommending people to start food pre 6 months is foolish. That was a fad in the 90’s and early 2000’s endorsed by doctors who thought they knew best. Breastmilk has been around way before introduced fortified foods have been around. There are now many proven studies that say introducing food before 6 months can lead to obesity and many other issues not to mention a decrease in milk supply and milk interest for baby. I feel like your post is one sided and somewhat anti breastfeeding as a valuable nutrition source. Also the topics you spoke on were somewhat exaggerated. And if not given in full context for readers could cause fear and anxiety in new mamas.

    1. This article talks about the need to start solids after 6 months because of baby’s need for extra iron. This is a very real limitation of breastmilk after 6 months. The only way to consider it “anti-breastfeeding” for me to provide this information is if you also consider it “anti-driving” to tell people to wear a seatbelt. That’s not anti-driving, it’s anti-death. I’m 100% pro-breastfeeding, 100% anti-infant-brain-damage-from-iron-deficiency.

      The article is absolutely one-sided, because this is what it’s about: the dangers of Baby Led Weaning. In the article I linked to my other articles on the benefits of Baby Led Weaning and how to do it safely. I’m sorry if you didn’t have the time to get to that.

      I assure you that nothing here is exaggerated. Since you provide no further elaboration on that viewpoint, I can’t respond to it further.

  23. The need to introduce solids at 6 months in exclusively breastfed babies specifically to ensure their iron levels are where they need to be may not be entirely true. From what I’m reading although iron is lower in breastmilk, it is better absorbed through breastmilk than iron through formula, cows milk, cereal or other iron-enriched food especially when exclusively breastfed for prolonged periods of time. In fact the study by Pisacane found that none of the infants in the study who were exclusively breastfed for 7 months were anemic and still had good iron stats at 12 and 24 months. What research have you found on the contrary?

    http://kellymom.com/nutrition/vitamins/iron/
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7658275

    1. Here’s the abstract for that article: “Iron status of 30 infants who had been breast fed until their first birthday and who had never received cow milk, medicinal iron, or iron-enriched formula and cereals was investigated; 30% were anemic at 12 months of age. The duration of exclusive breast-feeding was significantly longer among nonanemic infants (6.5 vs 5.5 months). None of the infants who were exclusively breast fed for 7 months or more and 43% of those who were breast fed for a shorter time were anemic. Infants who were exclusively breast fed for a prolonged period had a good iron status at 12 and 24 months. (J PEDIATR 1995;127:429-31)”

      Iron stores don’t drop to 0 immediately at 6 months. This is when they will start to go down if a child doesn’t start to get iron from food. Notice how 30% of the infants at 12 months were anemic? Breastfeeding is a very absorbable form of iron but there simply isn’t enough to supply what the infant needs after 6 months when the stores built up in the womb start to go down.

  24. The 30% infants were NOT exclusively breastfed past 7 months. The study doesn’t report what else or how much the child was eating only that it wasn’t iron-fortified food or that they were getting iron supplements. I agree that if weaning begins at 6 months, then yes one should consider iron fortified foods. The study does not show that the risk of iron deficiency increases the longer a baby is breastfed, in fact it’s exactly the contrary. (The duration of exclusive breastfeeding was significantly longer among non-anemic infants (6.5 vs 5.5 months) [17].) It’s not true that breastfeeding doesn’t provide enough iron past 6 months.

    1. I wish I had access to the full article as the abstract doesn’t provide many details.
      Alas, here is another article about the risk of iron deficiency when exclusive breastfeeding extends past 6 months.
      http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/2/452.short

      The rates of iron deficiency in toddlers remains a very real public health concern. Prevention is the best way to reduce the risk. There are no known benefits to the infant of exclusive breastfeeding beyond 6 months but there are risks.

  25. I’m sorry if this has been covered in one of the previous comments, I ended up scrolling through. I’ve been gearing up for BLW and this is the first time I’m hearing about the iron point which is a great point. My question is – how is this a danger of BLW? If I didn’t understand the importance of balanced macros and was making sweet potato, banana, avocado purees most puree moms I hear are making as ‘food’ for weeks on end, the potential for lack of iron rich foods is the same if not greater. And I picked up on the same thing as Nada in 12/2015, did you suggest you wrote the article without reading the book? Thanks!

    1. Hi Martina,
      You’re right: iron is something I talk about when feeding infants regardless of the method chosen: BLW or starting with purees! It is super important that baby’s first foods are high iron choices!

  26. My sons were exclusively breastfed until six months. After that I slowly introduced solid foods. They never had cow’s milk until around 10 months or so. They were weaned around 15 months.

    So…they are now 26, 28 and 30. All were all excellent students and are all very healthy and still healthy. Looking back I was would probably be considered a BLW Mother—

    I used my “let’s use my common sense approach”.

  27. There are inconsistencies in your post. I’m not trying to be rude but it’s true. Most people just keep parroting the same incorrect health information we’ve been told for years. Salt is not bad for you. At all. Actually it’s good for you. That was a bunch of nonsense that was started from one incorrectly executed and irrelevant study that was done decades ago. It was then parroted repeatedly. Please look into this. I could go on but I won’t. I’m not saying salt is good for an INFANT. But it is NOT bad for adults and actually low-sodium diets are not particularly healthy. Read Dr. Batmanghelidge book “The Water Cure” if you really want to understand health. The cure for most problems is simpler than people imagine.
    Regarding BLW, I agree that it’s foolish. It’s a choking hazard. Purees are smarter. No need to force them to eat chunks of food so early. Silly trend.

  28. Admits to not have read the official book on BLW (quick easy read, less than $15), but yet published article on why BLW is dangerous. Hmm. Smells like bias.

  29. Wow you did a great job responding to all these ladies who don’t seem to respect our profession as a whole. I don’t think it has much to do with BLW, but it seems like alot of the comments Are more because they do not see us as the experts. Now if Dr. Oz would’ve said something about BLW it would’ve been taken as biblical truth because he is a physician apparently and on TV . I don’t think I would have been as nice keep fighting the good fight!

  30. Wow I have never read a bigger load of nonsense in my life. How is this still on the internet?! Just WOW!!!!

  31. As a teen I saw evidence that “the person who effectively articulates with gentle kindness is usually, but not always, right,” and I decided to follow this philosophy of mine ever since.
    That said, all I had to do was read 50-75% of this comment section to choose you as my “go to” in this baby feeding department. I simply don’t have the time to “do my research” as everyone so aggressively barks at one another online. I used to research a topic for weeks, but then I became a mom! I just need to find someone I can trust in order to save my own sanity.
    You are incredible!

    To my delight, I discovered several tweets linking up to a new study that supports my young philosophy!! In a nutshell, angry meanies are dumb-dumbs after all, hahaha!!! https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289618300102

    1. Wow! Whenever I see a new comment on this article I brace myself for another “angry meanie” so I was blown away when I read this. Thank you so much for taking the time to write a comment. It means the world to me and helps to motivate me to keep working at providing helpful information to people! You’re the best and I want to send you best wishes on feeding your baby!

  32. Kudos to you! This article was exactly what I was looking for. I’m due in November with our first and have just been introduced to the idea of BLW. I’m a skeptic at heart and wanted this angle on BLW. As a FTM, I know little about infant nutrition and this will definitely help me when discussing with his pediatrician.
    You can tell many of those in the comments didn’t take the time to read the article, or was looking to argue. I want commentary from both sides (with peer reviewed evidence) and not a bunch of ‘woo’. I look forward reading through more of your articles.

    1. Hi Jessica! (always lovely to “meet” another Jessica!)

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I’m so so happy that this article is helping you make the best decision for your little one! Take a look around and let me know if you have any questions! Congratulations and best wishes as you finish your pregnancy and prepare to give birth!

  33. Hi Jessica,

    After reading through your post and all of these comments with differing opinions, I researched pubmed and personally found this paper to be quite informative and helpful:

    http://www.espghan.org/fileadmin/user_upload/guidelines_pdf/Hep_Nutr/Iron_Requirements_of_Infants_and_Toddlers.pdf

    I feel that if you had cited this paper discussing the many studies already done with Iron deficiency, there would be less dissension about your opinion regarding BLW.

    1. Hi Jeremy! Thanks for sending that article my way! I noticed it was published after I had originally written and published this article on BLW. Might be time for an update to include this reference!

  34. Ugh. I can’t believe you’re advocating giving food to babies under 6 months of age. Seeing that just proves to me you don’t know what you’re talking about and not to take anyn of your rubbish on board.

  35. LOL I love how many people use the word “rubbish” in this thread (sounds so formal, but doesn’t really give any sort of valid arguement along with it usually) . Well, my daughter and I have taken all of Smart Nutrition’s advice on baby feeding and have a very well adapted eater thanks to her information! I would describe myself as having done BLW – and that Jessica is the one who introduced me to it.

    Also wanted to comment that I have heard from many educated moms “food before one is just for fun”. And to their credit, they were trying to take the pressure off making sure their kid ate. And relieving pressure of moms is so good, but I took Jessica’s advice and made sure at least two of the meals I offered per day were high in iron, be that baby cereal, eggs, black beans or chicken. Eventually she got very used to eating those foods and it did take the pressure off because even if she didn’t eat other things I wanted her to, I knew she was getting what was most important! Thanks Jessica!

  36. Hi Jessica,
    I just started feeding my 6 month old solids and have been on the google because of how much he’s been gagging (common, I know, but it still makes me very nervous). Anyway found this article and after reading the mostly ridiculous comments I wanted to say keep up the good work! The arrogance of “mommy knows best” is astounding. A few quick google searches to find non credible sources does not make your knowledge base equivalent to a RD. Sheesh. You were kind and polite despite the nonsense, and I appreciate the links to actual studies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *